Israeli President Shimon Peres was honored with a special peace prize this morning at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The Spirit of Davos award is granted to leaders who have worked to promote peace, economics and technology on a global stage.
“A great leader in my definition has brains, he has vision, he has a soul and he has values and he has a heart which means passion and compassion. You have it and you have shown it again,” said WEF founder Klaus Schwab.
“In this spirit, and very exceptionally I have the great honor to give you an award for global leadership. We felt we must do something special so we have a Golden Bell and the text is, ‘President Shimon Peres a unique visionary and global statesman for tolling the bell of peace and harmony.’”
The Israeli leader thanked Schwab for the honor, saying, “This is the product of the Israeli effort, I am the humble recipient of it on behalf of the Israeli people. We have to use it in the Middle East to call the people to peace.”
At the special plenary this morning, Peres also took a moment to answer questions regarding some of Israel’s most pressing issues.
On the Iranian nuclear program:
It will be serious if they didn’t build nuclear weapons but just saying so isn’t serious. Iran doesn’t need the P5+1 to stop the nuclear program, no-one forces Iran to build nuclear missiles. No one forces Iran to support Hezbollah, which is today the greatest killer in Syria. If Iran continues with its current actions then they will see that the world won’t accept this dangerous behavior.
On Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s Davos speech yesterday:
For the time being it is only half a story, every speech has two parts – the one you declare and the one you omit. Occasionally what you omit is more important than what you announce and you asked the president of Iran, if he’s for peace with all and you got a smile, it’s nice but that’s not an answer. Iran has reached this point not out of choice but out of pressure. There is pressure from the young generation in Iran and of course from the sanctions. Iran is not an enemy for us, we see no reason for confrontation. The declarations yesterday may have been promising but the omissions were so obvious.
On the Palestinian peace process:
People didn’t believe we would make peace with Egypt or Jordan but we did. They didn’t believe we would start negotiations with the Palestinians but we did. There are difficulties of course but neither of us has an alternative. Israel offers in sincere terms a real peace and we are ready to offer what we can. We are a typical Middle Eastern country and we’re ready to share our knowledge.
On the situation in Syria:
President Assad, what sort of president is he? He killed 130,000 people, hundreds of thousands are in hospitals, 3 million refugees. Why does Iran support him? Why do they send Hezbollah to kill? The external forces bring confrontations not solution. The solution will come from within. The chemical weapons deal is an important achievement but I believe the young Arab generation will provide the solution, we can all help but we can’t be the major player.